We are not healthy. Obesity is now an epidemic, 1 in 3 kids are now obese, more and more people are becoming type II diabetics and heart disease and most other common illness’s are on the rise. But you don’t have to go to hospitals or statistic offices to see this. Just look around. I see it every day wherever I go. I guess, because of the nature of my work, I see it with magnifying glasses on. Yet we have more medical services, more doctors, more drugs, more information and more health “guidelines”. So why is this happening? I’ll tell you exactly why and I’ll tell you as straight down the line as is humanly possible. In terms of nutrition, what you are being told by the government and what you are being told by your doctor and what you are reading in books and magazines is basically a complete load of bullshit, the majority of it anyway. Look, I’m not going to beat around bush here. Most of you who know me or have read my articles and blogs before will know this. I’m outspoken and have strong opinions about diet and health. I now have a lot of knowledge to back up these opinions. Then I just want share what I know so that it can help people. It’s as simple as that.
The way I want to do this is to dig through all the information about health and nutrition, decipher it as best as I possibly can, then tell it how it is without external influences be it monetary or political. I still don’t have all the answers and probably never will due to the nature of this game. However, what I know as being closer to the truth is not the same as what people are being told from what are deemed “credible” sources. A lot of people are genuinely trying to be healthy. But the recommendations and guidelines that are out there are a pile of lies and fallacies. You’re told not to eat too much fat . You’re told to eat plenty of carbohydrates for energy . You’re told not to eat eggs and red meat to prevent cholesterol . You’re told the best way to lose weight is to do aerobic exercise. The list goes on. All I will say is that every single one of these recommendations is seriously questionable and almost contrary to what the science says. What I’m alluding to here is not based on some whimsical bit of hearsay. I’ve looked deep into the science of all of these things by reading hundreds of papers, articles and books on everything from nutrition to endocrinology to exercise. I’m now looking at things on a cellular and molecular level. I’m looking at gene expression, mRNA and epigenetics. I’m looking at enzymes, hormones and interleukins. I’m even looking at the hypothalamus and neuron signalling. All of this is allowing me to slowly put the pieces of the puzzle together. At the same time, its showing me that there is more to the way the body works than we ever imagined and for the most part, the way we currently think it functions is actually wrong. I won’t go on, but I hope you get the picture. Like I said, I want to help people. This is why I’m trying to explain what I know. I will say that I am only scratching the surface in certain situations as the complexity of what I really want to explain is just far too much for me to go into. Sometimes, less is more.. So I’ll continue in the same vain and move forwards with the hope that I make some sense and the reader can take home the message so that he or she can improve their health.
Right so I’m going to try to blow a few of these lies and fallicies out of the water. I’m going to start with common food advertisements/claims that I see on a daily basis. Here goes number 1:
- Brennans Bread – No added Sugar
So you are expected to believe that eating this food is good for you because it has no added sugar. Let me first point out that this applies to any wheat/flour type food. So bagels, baguettes, Panini’s, scones, pastries the big one “cereals” all fall into this bracket and these same rules apply. Flour of any type is essentially a chain of glucose molecules. To put it very simply:
Bread/Cereals –—> Glucose
With white breads, this happens very quickly. It happens even quicker if it is smothered with jam. It happens a bit more slowly with breads which still have the fibre and germ layers (i.e. the wholegrain) and it happens even slower if it is eaten with more protein and fat type foods e.g. meat and cheese. However, the end point is the same. When you eat bread you are essentially eating sugar i.e. glucose.
Why is this bad for you ?
This causes your blood sugar levels to go up and down, which causes your energy levels to go up and down, which causes your mood and appetite to go up and down. This is obviously not good for your health and it leads to weight gain and type II diabetes. In addition to this, grains, in particularly wheat, are not what we are designed to eat. These foods were not available to use pre agriculture and therefore grain foods are relatively new to us. We now know that there are parts of the grain that are difficult to digest and cause inflammation of the gut. Gluten is the main culprit and exists in many different forms depending on the grain type. With the cultivation of crops, the grains have been hybridised over the years so that now the modern wheat is even more different to the original form. This has lead to a change in the structure of gluten which has made it even more intolerant for digestion. There are now many studies which link problems in the gut to many common health problems such as eczema, fatigue and even depression. Suffice to say that not only is bread worth avoiding because of its sugar supply, but the affect it has on the digestive system and associated health issues is arguably even more of a reason to take it out of your everyday diet.
The Science Bit
Glucose causes a release of insulin from the pancreas. If you eat bread, particularly white bread, the release of glucose into the bloodstream is fast and the corresponding insulin release is fast. Insulin’s job is then to send the glucose molecules to the muscle tissue. However, if you are obese and have a poor diet in general, you could be insulin resistant which means that glucose doesn’t get transported fully to the muscle and can get deposited in the fat cells instead. An increase in insulin causes inhibition then of lypolysis. Lypolysis is the breakdown of fats in the adipose tissue. Therefore, not only are you storing more fat, you are preventing the breakdown of fat. It’s a double edged sword. This problem escalates as you continue to eat more bread as it continues to disrupt insulin and its function. This results in hyperinsulineamia as more insulin is secreted than is actually needed. Excess levels of insulin in the blood plasma causes an inflammatory response causing damage to the thyroid, brain and cardiovascular health. With the constant circulating high levels of glucose in the blood, they can become glycated leading to the formation of AGE’s (Advanced Glycation Endproducts). The formation of AGE’s releases side-products which are linked to hypertension, alziheimers and cancer.
Gluten is a protein that is difficult to digest and causes leaky gut. There are several compounds of gluten which all cause intolerances whereas the test for celiac disease tests for only 2 components of gluten. In other words, even if you pass the celiac test you still may be intolerant to another compound of gluten. In addition, wheat contains Wheat Germ Agglutinin which is another protein molecule known as a lectin. These have also been shown to cause digestive issues and associated leaky gut problems. Damage to the gut is now known to be the cause of various auto-immune diseases from hashimotos to Alzheimer’s. Finally, there are even now recent studies which show that wheat proteins can cross the blood brain barrier and trigger the opiate receptors which are associated with pleasure and addiction.
Being told that a food such as Bread contains “no added sugar” is a complety misleading statement. Bread is converted to glucose rapidly and therefore eating bread is the equivalent of eating sugar. High levels of glucose in the blood cause insulin spikes which cause fat storage (in individuals predisposed and/or obese) and stops fat breakdown. Long term surges in blood sugars and insulin lead to a host of diseases from diabetes to cardiovascular disease. Finally, it is not only the glucose content of flour type foods that is a concern but also the toxins such as gluten which cause digestive problems.
Put it in Context
So “Bread” is one of the staples of several nations’ diet. It certainly is a staple here in Ireland. Not just bread but all the other foods made from grains such as cereals, pasta’s, pastries, biscuits and cakes. Since this is the case, and since obesity is an epidemic, wouldn’t it seem plausible that the very food that we consume the most of is the one that causes most of the problems?? Based simply on this observation, the answer is obvious. But this is not just an observation, it based on the evidence behind blood sugars, insulin, inflammation, gluten and digestion. Thus, if you are obese of suffer from any major health problem, eliminating wheat and grain foods from your diet would be strongly recommended. If you are feeding your kids, realise the bread is sugar and can also cause digestive problems. In other words, give them something else for lunch other than a sandwich. Finally, if you are fit, lean and healthy, I would still advise against regular consumption of wheat/grains but having some now and again is probably not going to be detrimental to your health.
Side Note: I’ve decided not to reference every single statement I have made here and will probably continue to do this going forward. The reason for this is that the more I look at the research and studies, the more I realise that there is never one clean cut conclusion when it comes to nutrition and health. I could have a nice peer reviewed study showing how gluten is harmful while another peer reviewed study can show its not harmful. So for me it’s now all about the power of deduction. You need to read all the literature and information and review all the studies, then read between the lines and put everything in context. When you’re finished doing that, you then need to apply the law of specificity and tailor it to the individual’s physiology, health, nationality, age, sex, fitness, stress levels and lifestyle. I realise this is a difficult task for the average person so that is why I am trying to do the majority of it for you. But remember, the individual bit is up to you. N=1.
Nothing’s equivalent to the ON4S state of mind….